I only put reviews on this site for products I use on a regular basis. I may try out a new product from time to time, but I won’t put a review up unless it makes it to my camera bag or into my daily work routine. I’m also never paid to do these reviews. Certain companies may send me products to try but I never guarantee them a review unless I enjoy the and continue to use the product. I do make the products that I review available for sale and when possible I will use an affiliate link. If you purchase the product I will get a small percentage of the sale. It’s a great way to support this blog and the content in it.
X Theme Review
Before we get started, I highly suggest watching this short video that Envato (the folks who run Themeforest) made where you can actually meet the creators of X and see what they’re all about. Both Kyle and his brother Kory are good friends of mine and the way they run their business is one of the main things that sets them apart from the rest.
I’ve known Kory and his older brother Kyle (the creators of the X Theme) since I was in high school. I was in youth group with Kory and we became friends literally the first day I visited that church. Kory and Kyle were both at my wedding. I just recently went to Kory’s wedding and his bachelor trip to Colorado. So yes, we go way back 🙂
Kory is one of the best guitar players and musicians I’ve ever known or heard. Because of that, I always figured he would pursue a career in the music industry. So when he called me up around two years ago saying that he had started working for his brother and wanted to meet up to discuss some ideas regarding a WordPress theme, I was certainly intrigued. He told me that he had started down the path of developing WordPress themes and that he was about to start building a theme that they were hoping would be the be all, end all WordPress theme. That’s a pretty tall order, and I will admit that while I wasn’t doubtful they’d be able to do it, I was definitely curious to see how it all unfolded. Over the course of the next year or so, I got to watch this theme get built from scratch. Kory and I meet fairly often at coffee shops around the DFW area to “co-work” so I would see how the theme was coming along. Every now and then I would give him some feedback and ideas on what I would like to see in this “ultimate WordPress theme.”
I told him I’d really like the ability to switch between full page, a sidebar or even two sidebars within the theme. Up until that point, you typically had to buy a “two column” theme or a “three column theme” and so on. I also really wanted the ability to change the widths of the sidebar and the content of the site without having to get into the code and risk messing something up. Next time I met with Kory, he had added both of those things into theme. At that point, I was getting very intrigued.
At one point, I was telling him about how happy I was with the Genesis Framework and the Minimal Child Theme I was using. You really can do so much with the Genesis Framework but you do have to buy all the child themes separately so if you want to drastically change the look of your site; get out you wallet. Kory then told me that X wouldn’t be like that. X would use their own version of child themes (called “Stacks”) and that they would all be included for free when you purchase the theme…forever. At this point, I was hooked and ready to get this thing on my site for testing. Eventually I was able to get my hands on an early copy and started playing around with it. In all honesty, I was excited about the theme but wasn’t sure if I would use it. I loved the features but again; I really was happy with Genesis. There are a lot of things I need to have for my website so I went in with a cautious mindset. Well…after setting the theme up and seeing how everything worked: I was hooked. The rest, as they say, was history. The ease of use with getting X set up is just unparalleled with anything else out there you’ll find. The customizer makes setting up your site actually a fun experience.
Straight To The Top
Since launching on Themeforest.com, X Theme has become the fastest growing theme of all time on this massive site. That is no easy feat considering there are over 6 million items for sale on Themeforest with over 4.2 million customers. X was the fastest theme in Themeforest history to make “Power Elite,” grossing over 1 million in sales. Since that happened several months ago, they are already well over 2 million in sales. This thing has literally exploded in popularity and is showing no signs of stopping. So what makes the X Theme so amazing? Well, let’s count the ways…
Like I said in the beginning of this review; I’ve known Kory and Kyle for years and I know their hearts. Customer service is one of the key factors that sets the X Theme apart. I remember buying themes in the past and having to wait weeks for a response from the creator if I needed help with something. The average response time for help in the X Forum is under an hour. They have an entire team made up of developers from around the world) that get paid to keep questions answered in the support forum. This also means that there is a virtually endless amount of content already in the forum so a quick search can answer just about any question you might have.
Endless Possibilities Through the X Customizer
Like Genesis, you really need to think of X as a framework for your website. The stacks are the actual themes that make your site look a certain way. However, these stacks are so versatile that you could have any number of people using the same stack and all their sites would look totally unique and have a look all their own. To get a feel for just how true this is, go to the demo site and start clicking through the different home pages in the dropdown menu. Everyone from the State of Utah to celebrities to, well, ME are using X and none of our sites look the same.
When the X Theme was released, there were only three stacks available. Since then, they’ve added Ethos. There are more on the way, so things are only going to keep growing from here.
So what makes X so easy to make your own? Well, it’s called the Customizer. Sure, other themes have started using customizer as well, but none of theme are this in depth. In the past, you had to set your site up on a dev site so you weren’t making live changes to your site while people were on it. Or, you could download some clunky plugin that allowed you test a theme without having it live on your site. Those plugins however were often full of bugs and you couldn’t get a true sense of how the site would look.
The X Customizer let’s you change virtually every aspect of your website before making the theme live. When you’re ready, you just hit publish and the changes will be reflected live. If you get the itch to change a bunch of stuff in the future, just hop into Customizer and rebuild the site from the ground up or just a tweak a few things here and there. Hit publish again and you’re ready to go. It couldn’t be easier.
Frequent Updates and Integration
Updates for X Theme happen all the time. They are constantly adding new features, taking requests and making the site run faster and more efficiently. One of latest updates included support for bbPress and BuddyPress as well as another one of my requests, the full page search function :-). Go on, click the search icon at the top of this site and try it out for yourself!
The latest, latest update was the release of X 3.0 which was likely the biggest game changer yet. When Kory told me what they were wanting to do I was pretty floored. X 3.0 now comes equipped with 16 completely free, premium, custom built for X plugins. These plugins expand the functionality of X and help it to integrate seamlessly with several crucial programs from Mail Chimp to Google Analytics to custom 404 pages and much more.
Cornerstone | An Absolute Game Changer
I really don’t know if I can explain how big of a deal Cornerstone is. It’s an absolute game changer and you won’t find anything else like it on the market, anywhere. X used to use a program called Visual Composer to create customized pages and posts on your WordPress site. I hated VC, but it was pretty much the only thing on the market. It was clunky, unintuitive and creating custom pages took forever.
Kory and the team designed Cornerstone to replace VC and they built it from the ground up to be a user friendly, intuitive and fun program to use. After seeing how amazing X was, I learned to stop doubting Kory and the X team, so I had high hopes for Cornerstone and saw many versions of it before it was released to the public.
Well, they didn’t let me down. Cornerstone is everything Kory said it would be and more. Cornerstone has moved creating pages for my website from my left brain over to my right brain. Instead of a boring, monotonous task, creating pages has become a creative, fun process. That’s a huge deal, I cannot stress that enough.
If the X Customizer and Cornerstone weren’t enough, Themeco also released a collection of totally free extensions to use that were built specifically to use with X. Now, let’s clarify something real quick; X Extensions are basically just WordPress Plugins. So you’ll find extensions like Mailchimp, Disqus Comments or Facebook comments, but these aren’t the same plugins that you’ll find in the Plugins section of your WordPress site. These were built to work seamlessly with X.
You’ll also find some really awesome extensions that you probably wouldn’t have even thought of otherwise. I really love the Custom 404 extension. It let’s you create a custom 404 error page for your site for when visitors follow a bad link somewhere on your site. You hope this never happens, but the reality is that sometimes it does.
I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever use something beside X. Why? Because when it comes time to rebuild my site from the ground up, I can still use X and come up with something totally unique. That’s how versatile this thing is.
If you have any questions at all regarding X, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. I’ll answer what I can and I’m sure Kory or Kyle will stop by from time to time as well 🙂